T shirt 21 Tobermory and Toronto

Tobermory2 Tobermory1 The second in the religious T shirts sequence. On the face of it there’s no reason to connect this tourist T shirt from Tobermory Ontario on the end of the Cockburn peninsula with religion. But give me a moment and I’ll explain. I was over in Ontario in the summer of 1997 for a family wedding. Bought the T shirt in Tobermory – (I honeymooned in the original Tobermory on the Island of Mull) so it has associations for me. I was wearing it the night I visited the airport church in Toronto at the height of what was called the Toronto Blessing.  It was a weird time. Those who attended the church were subject to all sorts of manifestations roaring like lions, dancing spontaneously, having fits, losing control of limbs you name it. And Christian ‘tourists’ were flying into Toronto from literally all over the planet to ‘catch’ the blessing and take it home whereupon the blessing was supposed to spread.  Several in my church had been so since I was staying down the road it seemed churlish not to visit.  Actually the whole midweek service seemed pretty level headed.  Towards the end they instructed everyone attending that they would be prayed for. The pastor and a couple of others headed down the line. At which point I discovered it was a bit like being in an infantry square at Waterloo – bodies were falling around me on either side. All I can say is that nothing happened to me. The pastor appeared in front of me and peered at me. Are you from Tobermory he asked. No I’m a tourist I answered greatly reassured. Any con man looking for cues would have worked out that the last people to wear a T shirt from a holiday destination actually live there.  I really think they were genuine. Afterwards a biker from Pensecola came and upbraided me for my lack of faith since I hadn’t fallen over. By which time I think I had had enough.

My take on the whole Toronto Blessing was that there was a strong element of hysteria. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of money and time travelling to Toronto to have a religious experience, the internal tension is going to get to you eventually and could produce some kind of nervous reaction. I had to be there for a wedding so hadn’t the same internal pressures. But from what I could see there was no preconditioning or priming by those leading from the front.  They were genuinely perplexed by the whole thing and were trying to ride the wave.

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